Staff at the DVLA’s headquarters in Swansea have begun a four-day strike after union members voted to support action in protest at the agency’s Covid-19 safety measures.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) claims that the 600 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the site is the most of any workplace in the UK.
The PCS says it wants its members to be able to work from home and that those who can’t but don’t feel safe working in offices shouldn’t be forced to do so.
The union says some progress has been made following talks, with 300 desks removed to free up space inside offices and risk assessments being revised. Extra leeway is being given to pregnant women and employees living with vulnerable people, which has led to a further 300 staff being sent home.
“DVLA management need to stop playing fast and loose with the safety of their own workers, because the stakes are just too high,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka. “That PCS members are prepared to take unprecedented strike action shows just how badly DVLA management have failed in their responsibility to keep staff safe.”
Travel to and from Wales is highly restricted and working from home is strongly advised, but people can still travel to work if this isn’t possible. Employers must make every effort to ensure that the risk of spreading infection is kept low and must demonstrate a business need for workplaces to stay open.
Last week, the PCS claimed that the DVLA was suppressing a report into home working conducted by consultancy firm Deloitte. The union believes the report “contains recommendations relating to the DVLA’s capacity for home working which could bring an end to the current dispute” and that the agency “has gone out of the way to avoid sharing the findings”.
The DVLA has warned that paper applications for driving licences will be delayed as a result of the strike action but said that online services will operate as normal.